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Player Spotlight: Brandon Marshall

A detailed look at Brandon Marshall's fantasy prospects for 2013

Setting the Stage

Brandon Marshall was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His parents were unable to stay together for long periods and subsequently, Marshall lived with each of them at different times, mostly in Florida, but also in Georgia. He attended Lake Howell High School in Seminole County in Central Florida. Marshall lettered three years in track, basketball, and football, where he played both offense and defense.

He was not highly regarded out of high school and had offers from Connecticut and Florida, but the Gators wanted him to play safety. Although he preferred Florida, he decided to attend Central Florida so he could play as a wide receiver.

Marshall developed slowly at Central Florida, catching only 37 passes for 465 yards and 2 TDs over his first three seasons. However, he really came on strong as a senior when he had 74 receptions for 1,195 yards (16.1 ypc) and 11 TDs. He was invited to the 2006 NFL Combine, but did not rate as a top performer there. In fact, he was generally outperformed by Greg Jennings, Marques Colston, and Miles Austin in most events. Marshall only ran a 4.52 forty-yard dash and his broad and vertical jumps were 37” and 10’-0”. However, his size and strength piqued the interest of several in the scouting community. He was measured at 6-foot 5-inches and weighed 229 pounds.

The combination of his off-field issues as well as the lackluster NFL Combine numbers allowed Marshall to fall far in the 2006 NFL Draft. He was finally taken by the Denver Broncos in the fourth round with the 119th overall pick as the 13th wide receiver. Marshall’s career production far exceeds any of his 2006 draft members, and in fact he ranks third among all NFL wide receivers in receptions over the seven years that his career has spanned. Marshall’s accomplishments in the NFL seem greater than his recognition, at least thus far in his career. His off-field struggles perhaps influence that more than his on the field play. He has been twice traded first by the Broncos to the Dolphins for a pair of second round picks and then before last season to the Bears for a pair of third round picks.

His career stats are provided below.

Year Team Gms Rush Yds ypr TDs Targ Rec Yds ypc TDs
2006 Denver 15 2 12 6.0 0 38 20 309 15.4 2
2007 Denver 16 5 57 11.4 0 170 102 1,325 13.0 7
2008 Denver 15 2 -4 -2.0 0 181 104 1,265 12.2 6
2009 Denver 15 7 39 5.6 0 154 101 1,120 11.1 10
2010 Miami 14 2 3 1.5 0 146 86 1,014 11.8 3
2011 Miami 16 0 0 0.0 0 142 82 1,227 15.0 6
2012 Chicago 16 1 -2 -2.0 0 192 118 1,508 12.8 11
Totals   107 19 105 5.5 0 1,023 613 7,768 12.7 45

Looking Forward to 2013

Marc Trestman is Chicago’s new head coach this year replacing Lovie Smith. Trestman is a long-time NFL assistant (primarily as a quarterback coach) and comes to Chicago from the Canadian Football League’s Montreal franchise where he won two Grey Cups in his five years there. Aaron Kromer will be the offensive coordinator. Kromer comes from New Orleans where he coached the offensive line. Kromer also filled in last year as the Saints’ interim head coach early in the season during the suspensions related to Bounty Gate. The coaching staff is more offensive minded, and particularly skilled at quarterback development, so there is considerable optimism for increased production.

Jay Cutler returns for his fifth season in Chicago and his final year under contract. Cutler has yet to match his completion percentage, his passing yardage or his average yards per attempt from his years in Denver. Last year the team improved their receiving options with the addition of Brandon Marshall and by drafting Alshon Jeffery. This year they added Martellus Bennett, so with these additions and the new coaching staff, there will be a lot of pressure on Cutler to improve in 2013.

The offensive line was bolstered with the addition of free agent Jermon Bushrod at left tackle. This addition allows J’Marcus Webb to shift back to right tackle and improves Chicago at both tackle spots. The Bears also added Kyle Long with a first round draft pick and he is expected to start at left guard. The Bears should have their best offensive line personnel in several years. Again, the chemistry may take some time to gain traction, but there is no doubt the line is much improved.

Brandon Marshall has played well throughout his NFL career, but he has particularly excelled when Jay Cutler was his quarterback. In their three years together (07-08 and 12) Marshall has had remarkable production with 543 targets, 324 receptions, 4,098 yards and 24 touchdowns. The targets for Marshall might decrease some in 2013, but you can expect that he will remain Cutler’s favorite target.

Positives

  • Marshall has a long history of success when teamed with quarterback Jay Cutler
  • The new coaching staff should help Jay Cutler and improve offensive production overall
  • The offensive line play should be improved, particularly with protecting Jay Cutler, who hopefully will be able to significantly reduce turnovers

Negatives

  • The improved receivers (Bennett and Jeffery who missed time with injuries) should decrease Marshall’s targets some, but he ranked third in the NFL in 2012 so that might not be significant
  • Marshall missed most of the off-season workouts following hip surgery in January
  • Improved offensive line could lead to improved rushing production which might also limit the opportunities in the passing game

Projections

  Gms Rush Yds ypr TDs Rec Yds ypc TDs
David Dodds 16 1 6 6.0 0 103 1,308 12.7 9
Bob Henry 15 0 0 0.0 0 102 1,320 12.9 10
Jason Wood 16 0 0 0.0 0 105 1,275 12.1 8
Maurile Tremblay 16 1 6 6.0 0 100 1,281 12.8 9
Stephen Holloway 16 0 0 0.0 0 105 1,344 12.8 10

Final thoughts

Marshall is very highly regarded entering the 2013 season. His current ADP is WR4 and 16 overall, so it will be difficult for him to improve on last year’s performance or provide value over that high ADP. However, Marshall remains a player that will be his quarterback’s favorite target and should be a consistent player all season. He has finished among the top ten wide receivers three times in his NFL career and two of those seasons were when he was matched with Cutler. His lowest production with Cutler was in 2008, when he caught 104 passes for 1,265 yards and 6 touchdowns for a WR11 finish.

Other Viewpoints

Gregg Rosenthal in Around the League http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000216702/article/brandon-marshalls-health-a-concern-for-chicago-bears

There is no such thing as "minor" hip surgery, just like there is no such thing as "minor" back surgery. When an NFL player undergoes a hip procedure, it's fair to wonder about the long-term effects. That's why we'll be watching Brandon Marshall closely in training camp this offseason. The Chicago Bears' entire passing game wide receiver underwent arthroscopic hip surgery in January and was sidelined for nearly all of the offseason. The Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs wondered if the surgery will be a problem, while noting the Bears were just being extra cautious in the offseason. Marshall now has undergone three hip surgeries in his career. His quick comeback from the previous two provides hope that he'll be good as new.

Larry Hartstein on CBSSports.com http://fantasynews.cbssports.com/fantasyfootball/players/playerpage/426135/brandon-marshall

"No limitations," Marshall said, "but we're gonna be smart. I'm going on my eighth year, (have) had a few hip surgeries, nothing major. But at the same time, we start playing games in September. So that's what I'm preparing for. It's important to get out there with your teammates, build that chemistry, learn the offense, get reps. But at the same time, if I'm not healthy, all that doesn't matter. So I'm going to listen to my body, and go as it tells me."

Chase Stuart in the Brandon Marshall Spotlight Thread http://forums.footballguys.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=682265#entry15616057

The real wildcard is Marc Trestman.  The Bears threw 485 passes last year, 27th in the NFL.  Part of that was the defense scored so many touchdowns, part of that was the team generally playing with a lead, part of it was a desire to keep Cutler healthy, and part of it was just the conservative nature of the offense.  If Trestman brings an up-tempo offense to Chicago, as he's suggested, and the Bears defense stops scoring touchdowns every other game, Chicago could easily jump into the top half of the league in pass attempts.  Considering how productive Marshall already is, his potential is outstanding.

TheDirtyWord in the Brandon Marshall Spotlight Thread http://forums.footballguys.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=682265#entry15638659

So, I see Marshall as the fool’s gold of this year’s elite WR crop.  A lot of people might come into drafts with the thought process that the Bears simply have no other options.  But I can’t see an offensive mind like Trestman’s, no matter how competent or incompetent, allowing what transpired (Marshall having 40% of the overall targets) in 2012 to take place again.  It’s not to say Marshall won’t be productive, I just see him as a 3rd round value at best and one who’ll probably not make it to me when it comes time for my pick.


More from Steve Holloway:

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